Coffee House

Ed Miliband stays in the rough with oddly charmless radio interview

29 April 2013

29 April 2013

The problem with Ed Miliband’s World at One interview was that he addressed Martha Kearney as if she was a public meeting. Whenever she asked him a difficult question, he just spoke louder. At one point, he barked at her ‘you don’t understand’.

Subscribe from £1 per week


It was an oddly charmless performance from a man who, in private, can be thoroughly charming. He might just have got away with it against a hectoring interviewer on the Today Programme. But in response to Martha Kearney’s calm, well reasoned questioning, it just seemed rude.

The content was also odd. At one point, Miliband implied that a VAT cut would pay for itself — an extreme Lafferite position. It was a sign of just how much Labour doesn’t want to admit that it would increase borrowing, even if only for the short term.

Having had 12 months or so in which Labour has had the rub of the green, Miliband is now having a bit of a rough patch. He needs good local election results on Thursday if this is not to turn into a full mid-term wobble.


More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us.

Show comments
  • Gwaillor

    Oddly charmless? The man is repellent. The Labour Party seems to be determined to make every leader they choose more unpleasant than the last. And Gordon Brown is a hard act to follow.

  • loverat

    This is interesting. For quite some time I thought Mr M lacked charm or any kind of personality. However I did warm to him a bit when he did those meetings with members of the public in a studio where he came across very well and as a human being. Perhaps he is one of those people who comes across better and more comfortable in more informal settings. Perhaps part of the problem was the interviewer. I always prefer interviewers who are relaxed and are not always trying to catch people out. You can actually learn more about people by being less confrontational and if you put the interviewer at ease.

  • thanksdellingpole

    VAT is theft, an EU concept only introduced after we joined, for once Milliband is right. Low/No tax provides alternative revenue streams that make up the loss. Besides, who aid current levels of taxation had to be maintained?!

  • Simon Scarth

    I have just realised that the small business tax from Labour is designed to make businesses small, and they will! We will not be relocating our company back to the UK as we are concerned that these clowns are in the wings. When people realise that Socialism is a failure and and economic model based on hatred it goes nowhere.

  • HJ777

    Ed was even more vacuous and earnestly annoying sixth-formerish than usual.

    That takes some doing!

    It is quite staggering that he thinks he is prime ministerial material. Nobody else does, surely?

  • kyalami

    It’s just a guess, but I suspect Miliband won’t ever do another Martha Kearney interview.

  • John Mackie

    It was a particularly graceless interview given Kearney was one her knees giving him a sloppy BJ from the off. Just shows how rigidly programmed he must think he has to be to not mention ZanuLab borrowing policy going forward. It was bizarre.

  • David Lindsay

    You do realise, don’t you, that most voters are at work during The World at One? Just as they are during PMQs, in fact.

    • GUBU

      Which doesn’t change the fact that Mr Miliband is light on both personality and policy, but strong on oddness.

      But as long as people don’t know that, everything is just dandy….

      • David Lindsay

        Which, even it is true, they won’t lean from that. As a Radio Four-loving freelance journalist and political anorak, I make no claim to be an average voter.

        • HJ777

          Going out and getting a real job would do you the world of good.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            He’s far too stupid to do a real job.

    • Makroon

      Don’t worry Lindsay, the Spectator has thoughtfully provided a podcast.

      • David Lindsay

        The obvious thing called to mind by that is, “Don’t worry, Baldrick has a cunning plan.” Apparently, that one was even written on the Berlin Wall.

        But we are a more erudite lot on here, are we not? Therefore, it has to be “There’s no need to worry, Dickie’s on the case.” Exclaimed by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor whenever they heard that responsibility for anything had been given to, or assumed by, Lord Mountbatten.

  • Colonel Mustard

    That photo shows exactly why we should be wary of this union-backed socialist son of foreign communist roots.

  • Martin_Kinsella

    Dreadful

  • starfish

    I wonder which is worse – UKIP taking seats from the Torys or UKIP taking seats from Labour
    Bring it on

    • James Strong

      The worst is Conservatives taking seats from UKIP.

  • Makroon

    History repeats, first as tragedy, then as farce.
    Blair had his Brown, Red has his Balls.
    It’s patently obvious that the Stuntmeister general is in charge of Labour’s economic policy, which is just a series of stunts and scams.
    Red doesn’t agree with it, finds it baffling, and half the time doesn’t even know what Balls is up to.
    We have been here before.

  • Fergus Pickering

    It was the worst interview given by a party leader that I have ever heard. And he knew it. He just spoke faster and louder and answered no questions at all. This man cannot be Prime Minister. He is simply not up to it. Even Gordon Brown would have given a better interview. I feel quite cheerful about the Tories’ chances in 2015.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      True

      • Fergus Pickering

        God God. And I just said I would never agree with you on anything. Red Ed brought us together.

    • DavidL

      Reminiscent, in its way, of Neil Kinnock’s meltdown when questioned by James Naughtie on the same programme. Same issue too: Labour’s lack of a credible economic policy.

      • Gwaillor

        Kinnock had the last laugh, though, didn’t he, with his lavishly paid Euro-sinecure? For Labour politicians there’s no job quite as good as a job paid out of public funds. And then there’s Gordon “No return to boom and bust” Brown, wallowing in his £180,000 salary. Snouts…troughs…pigs.

  • Russell

    Miliband had the brass neck to say Osborne will be leaving a staggering £60billion deficit in 2 years time (from a planned zero deficit), forgetting him and his chums left a £160billion deficit 3 years ago!

  • Russell

    Milibrain is slowly admitting things with errr.we got Immigration wrong, err..err..err we got Banking regulation wrong, err..err..err we got welfare benefits wrong.
    No mention of Stafford/NHS, IT projects. PFI, Education standards, and a whole lot more.

    If he had been thoroughly honest he would have spent the entire interview explaining what labour got wrong!
    Pathetic performance from a pathetic politician who is the leader of a pathetic political party.

    • Andy

      Would be far easier if they just admitted they got everything wrong. We all know that.

      • Russell

        I can just see the headlines……’Labour admit they got everything wrong when last governing the country’ Milibrain says vote labour!

      • HJ777

        I don’t think you’re correct.

        They did bring in the Freedom of Information Act – They should be commended for that.

        I do find it hard to think of any other examples though.

  • James

    Ed is also scared that Farage has more media charisma and has more in common with working class people.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Farage has more in common with people, any people. Ed is a Dalek.

      • James

        Ed’s Labour machine certainly want to exterminate Britain.

  • Curnonsky

    Ed is Britain’s Francois Hollande.

    • Makroon

      Nah, Francois has a way with the ladies.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    ‘Labour doesn’t want to admit that it would increase borrowing, even if only for the short term.’

    Love that ‘short term’.

  • http://twitter.com/Shinsei1967 Nick Reid

    I thought it was a dreadful interview for the simple reason that he just couldn’t be brave enough to admit that borrowing would go up in the short term. Which everyone clearly knows is what Labour would do. And it is a perfectly “reasonable” economic argument to make (though I personally think it wrong).

    However, I have no problem with Ed saying this:

    “No you don’t understand Martha”

    Radio 4 presenters (Today programme in particular, though with notable exception of Evan Davies) are hugely narrow minded and insular when it comes to economic matters. It is clear that they have never even considered views that don’t meet with their prejudiced worldview. So a politician getting angry at them for not being more open to new or different ideas is positively to be welcomed.

    Even if, in this case, Martha Kearney was right and Ed wrong.

    • telemachus

      Ed was arguably right. As Tim Montgomery stated “every sensible Tory is a Lafferite. We should all believe in cutting taxes”
      In this case the tax cut will feed directly to growth and cutting the deficit

      • Russell

        just like the 50 pence tax cut eh?

      • http://twitter.com/Shinsei1967 Nick Reid

        I’m not sure that a temporary VAT cut has any real Laffer effect though. It brings forward demand certainly (buy that new sofa and save £30) but does it have any impact on boosting long term growth. Does anyone hire extra staff or take on new capacity if they know that the current mini-boom will be over in a few months.

        Cutting income tax permanently has a much better medium & long term multiplier effect.

        • itdoesntaddup

          The effect of Darling’s cut was clear. A reduction in revenues, pure and simple. Increasing the rate again increased revenues, both in moving from 15% back to 17.5% and in going to 20%. The optimal Laffer point may not be that much higher though.

          • Russell

            Not forgetting the cost to business of altering the changes twice!

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

          Neither will have any effect now. They would simply suggest higher taxes round the corner. People have withdrawn from transactions which is why Velocity has dropped

        • ButcombeMan

          Cutting tax for the low paid is better, that money actually gets spent. Exactly what Farage said on QT last week.

          Cut my tax I just save it and put it in to the world wide stock market. I am at that stage of life where there is nothing much I want.

      • Andy

        ‘In this case the tax cut will feed directly to growth and cutting the deficit.’

        Like bollocks it will. It didn’t do before, as we all know. It wont now.

        What we should do is supply side reforms – lots of em’. One suggests that at Fascist HQ you have a look at that.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Right about what? What did he say that was right? Tell us telemchus. I could extract no meaning at all from his vapid huffing and puffing.

      • pilsden

        When Balls first floated this it was pointed out that the OBR calculations showed the 12bn cut had a 4bn effect so a net loss. Chris Giles of the FT commented on it thus
        “Mr Balls is perfectly entitled to think that the OBR is staffed by a bunch of idiots in hock to the coalition government. But what does he need to assume? He must believe his £12bn VAT cut will transform the economy. People will spend the money on UK goods and services and the income from those flows will also be spent in the UK, multiplying the initial tax cut many times. His faith is that the VAT cut will raise the size of the economy by £30bn to get £12bn back in revenues and help lower the deficit in the long term…once you spell out Mr Balls’ assumptions, they are clearly crazy.”

        • telemachus

          It is partly a matter of confidence and the economic activity stimulated elsewhere in the economy as the VAT and infrastructure investment work their magic in the defined areas
          Ask Geoff Howe, Ken or Gordon.

          • anyfool

            It is partly a matter of confidence and the economic activity

            It is partly a matter of confidence tricks and the economic inactivity of the last government that these magicians leading your party are going to put to the country in 2015, the result depends topping up the 29% of money for nothing people who voted Labour at the last election with more mentally retarded people who believe in the Magic Money Tree.
            If your dumbing down education worked you might get elected but it is doubtful with Milly and Ballocks.

          • kyalami

            “work their magic”. Magic, indeed, would be needed. Economics wouldn’t do it.

          • HJ777

            You mean the infrastructure investment that Labour cut dramatically before the election (and which it planned to cut even more)?

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            The key word is ‘magic’ and as every adult knows, there is no such thing as magic. Of course somebody as infantile as you naturally believes in such things.

      • ButcombeMan

        He lost the plot and Martha was very patient with him, a Brillo or a Paxo might not have been.

        The problem with cutting VAT is that a huge portion of VAT is actually collected from the South East and particularly London. Why should those Russian millionaires get a tax cut on their furnishings, fast cars and food (restaurant)?

        Pilsden has it right. For Red Ed-parroting Balls clap trap is a big mistake, he is going to have to dump Balls.

        The interview was truly terrible. He has NO policies. Some in Labour ranks must be getting worried now.

  • Magnolia

    I listened to it and thought it the genuine ‘car crash’ rather than the oft used analogous term merely to describe an opponent’s interview.
    Dire.
    Nothing positive, no answers, evasive.
    Just the same old VAT cut and bankers bonus which is going to help all those poor people and make everything better.
    I’ll say this for her she pressed him on borrowing and debt and he was pretty much stumped. He talked a lot but had no meaningful explanation of how a Labour government will deal with the lack of growth and the debt except by offering everyone on welfare a job. Lets be clear on this, that would be a state directed job. Who’s going to pay for that? Where’s the money for that going to come from?
    Round and round in circles he went going over the same failed reasoning.
    At one pont he said that people’s energy bills were too high and that he would do something to help them with that? I had to laugh.
    Labour will put up tax and hasten the bankrupting of our country in the vain hope that it will make it better. It won’t. That is the policy that dare not speak its name.

    • HookesLaw

      A window into the hopeless future for the nation if we allow it to be sleepwalked into a Labour victory.

    • lgrundy

      “At one point he said that people’s energy bills were too high and that he would do something to help them with that”
      Of course, any decent interviewer, would point out to Red Ed that the reason people’s energy bills are too high is because of *his* Climate Change Act.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        “He”…….strange way of speaking. It is not for him to do anything at all. WHEN he was a Minister he increased energy costs…….he is NOT now a Minister and can do nothing

      • Mynydd

        Mr Cameron has had 3 years to change *his* Climate Change Act he hasn’t so Mr Cameron must agree with it. Energy bills are high due to wind farm hand outs to people like Mr Cameron’s father-in-law.

    • http://twitter.com/Shinsei1967 Nick Reid

      No one would argue that high energy bills are a problem and eating into people’s living standards. But Ed M hasn’t any suggestion as to how to make them cheaper, because quite frankly apart from getting gas prices down internationally, sterling stronger or opening up fracking there just isn’t a solution.

      And a bankers bonus tax. Has he not noticed that there aren’t any bonuses to atx these days ?

      • itdoesntaddup

        You could also keep coal fired power stations open. They produce cheap power, and would free up gas for domestic consumption.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

          Drax is designed for coal and produces 7% UK supply but Dippy Dave is forcing it to burn US woodchips instead

          • Mynydd

            You could have added imported coal

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        Gas prices internationally are HIGHEST in the UK which is why Qatari tankers are diverted here and why German gas storage facilities are depleted because gas was sold to the UK on the spot market. What is needed is STORAGE FACILITIES and a switch away from gas-generated electricity

        • HJ777

          Is that really so?

          We do still have the cheapest domestic gas prices in Europe.

      • HJ777

        You missed his point about energy prices.

        He is going to talk to people and do something about them.

        Have I clarified that for you?

    • Shazza

      And complete the population replacement programme.

    • Russell

      It would certainly be interesting to know exactly where these guaranteed jobs are going to come from, what they are and how much they are going to increase the welfare bill, if that is where the money to pay for them is coming from.
      The man is a fool.

    • Andy

      He came across as evasive and rude. Failing to admit that he would borrow more made him look a complete idiot.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        Agreed

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      How could you stand listening to that voice ?

      • Magnolia

        Martha has a lovely voice!

      • itdoesntaddup

        I don’t stand …it makes me hopping mad…

    • http://twitter.com/judyk113 judyk113

      Three cheers for Martha Kearney!

    • HJ777

      My only criticism of your post is that you applied the word ‘reasoning’ to Ed Miliband’s twaddle (even if you did precede it with the word ‘failed’).

      There was nothing that could be argued to represent reasoning from this utterly vacuous and annoying person, who gets ever louder and more insistent as he embarrasses himself.

  • Archimedes

    “He needs good local election results on Thursday if this is not to turn into a full mid-term wobble.”

    Unless they’re spectacular results then it isn’t going to make that much difference, is it?

  • Swiss Bob

    “No you don’t understand Martha”

    What a shame the Speccie’s hero has been made to look a moron in one of the softest interviews he’s ever likely to have.

    As others have noted A Neil would fillet him without having to draw breath.

    • HookesLaw

      I don’t see Miliband as a Speccy hero. Where have they lionised him?

      Apparently he said
      “Are our problems so deep that nobody can make a difference to them? My emphatic answer is yes.”

      • lgrundy

        No problem is ever so deep that a Labour government can’t make it worse.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Fraser Nelson wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago which while disagreeing with Milliband from a political perspective, rather lauded him at a personal level. Leo McKinstry responded in the comments section with some rather painful home truths and utterly demolished Fraser’s argument.

        • HookesLaw

          The same was said about Farage at a lobby meeting – though at the time the article did not say that Farage had downed a bottle of red before speaking.
          As I think I have said Conservatives are always far too nice about their opponents.

          • Fergus Pickering

            I wish certain Tories would down a bottle of red before speaking. It would improve their performance immeasurably.

          • James Strong

            Farage was at lunch.
            He can drink what he wants.
            Provided he wasn’t making decisions, other than personal decisons, after lunch then I applaud him for being able and willing to relax.

            • http://www.facebook.com/SyG21 Simon Gothard

              “He drinks what he wants, he drinks what he wants he’s Nigel Farage and he drinks what he wants”

              • Makroon

                Pssst ! not many football fans in here.

        • Russell

          At times Isabel and Owen Jones are liketwo peas in a pod showing their admiration of labour/socialism and hatred of Conservatism.

        • FrenchNewsonlin

          Exactly. Meanwhile Mr Forsyth above sounds positively forlorn over Milliband’s fatuousness.The Millis maxi- and mini-mus are leadership disasters.

    • Makroon

      He must have been taking lessons from his master – Mr charmless Brown.

    • Fergus Pickering

      I thought Martha Kearney did a very thorough job.

      • Barakzai

        Agree. She was quiet, firm and persistent, more than enough to show up Miliband’s gauche gabbling. Milband’s inadequacy was exposed as effectively as a rottweiling from Neil or Paxton would have achieved. A mauling from either would simply have rallied Guardianista support (of the customary’it’s not fair’ variety), but being torpedoed by the polite Martha Kearney surely will be food for thought for the brightest of the socialists (stand fast Mr Telemachus . . . )

  • HookesLaw

    Perhaps he thinks Martha should be cleaning behind the fridge.

    • Makroon

      Wrong party.

      • HookesLaw

        I thought round here everybody was tarred with the same brush.

    • Magnolia

      Do ‘we’ have to take a pop at UKIP over everything?
      Martha may be a BBC lefty (probably of the our Tone variety) but she is also an alumnus of Oxford University.

      • HookesLaw

        Don’t be a spoil sport.

      • The Sage

        alumna, surely.

        • Magnolia

          Thanks for the correction.
          I messed about during Latin and didn’t go to Oxford university.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

          Yes, you are right !

      • James Strong

        She’s a ‘lefty’ is she? Having allowed Miliband to make himself look both rude and ill-equipped for his job she remains a ‘BBC lefty’.
        Why don’t you lot give this a rest? Or critique all the interviews with the leaders on the World At One this week and come back, with quotes and timings, to prove that Labour was given an easier time than the Conservatives?
        I’m ready to be proved wrong on this, if you can do that. But at the moment all I see is conservative-minded bias denigrating those who don’t share that bias.
        Commenters here saying to each other. ‘Isn’t the BBC awful?’ is not evidence.
        I challenge you to critique Matha Kearney’s interviews for the rest of the week and come back, make your case and convince me.
        I personally think John Humphrys is not a good interviewer, his questions lack precision and often include digressions. But it’s his lack of precision that irritates me, not that he is a ‘lefty’.
        David Frost was far worse for rambling, imprecise questions.

        • Makroon

          I agree with you, Kearney is a very decent interviewer – watch this space, she will be “reassigned”.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        No. She is an ALUMNA

    • Hexhamgeezer

      Or perhaps she has a little lady who ‘does’

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      I did not know her fridge obscured dirt, but take your word for it Friend of Martha

Close
Can't find your Web ID? Click here